Remains of L.A.

Traces of L.A.'s past can still be found, in the kitsch of '50s diners and the decayed glamour of '40s hotspots… and sometimes the food is good, and there are nice people.


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(1971) Pinocchio Italian Restaurant, Burbank

yPinocchio's sign 01I went to Pinocchio Italian Restaurant in Burbank for lunch. I’d been there before, years ago, and really liked it, and always meant to go back, and somehow never did until now. It’s one of those places where half the space is a deli/wine store, and the other half is a restaurant. The seating looks like the sort you’d find in a sit-down restaurant where waiters take your order, but in the front there’s a food counter and a pile of trays. I got kind of confused looking around, and couldn’t remember if the counter was just for take-out or what. Luckily some people came in at the same time as me, and confirmed that you take a tray, get your food served cafeteria-style, then pay and take your tray to a table. A bit later, Continue reading

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(1969) Don Cuco, Toluca Lake

ysdoncucossignI was in Hollywood when I heard that Debbie Reynolds had died, so after work I went and visited her stars on Hollywood Boulevard. Then I called David (my husband) and begged him to meet me somewhere we could get comfort food. Since I was already driving back over the hill, we decided on Don Cuco in Toluca Lake. Don’t know if Debbie ever ate there but she grew up in Burbank and Warner Bros. Studio is less than a mile away, so it seems likely, or at least very possible, that she did. There are three Don Cucos; we’d been to the one in Burbank several times because it’s close to where we live, but this one, in Toluca Lake, is the original.

-It’s all wonderfully warm and cosy, with red lights and red booths and tables, each booth is separated from the others with wooden railings and pillars, and there’s a fake roof overhead — the kind with those rounded clay tiles — so it’s like everyone is sitting on the front porch of a house. Because we were there in late december, there were lots of Christmas decorations everywhere, tinsel and fake snow on the fake roof, blending nicely with the Continue reading


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(1949) Bob’s Big Boy, Burbank

BBBneonsignI felt a little silly going to a Bob’s Big Boy for my blog, since it’s a huge chain, but this was one of the very first ones, built in 1949, and the oldest still around. At some point in the ’90s someone bought it and started making it more like it was in the old days, with car-hop service on the weekends and a classic car show every Friday (which, I’ve been told, Jay Leno attends). My friend Terry and I decided to check it out but didn’t go on a Friday or a weekend, because it’s supposed to be extremely crowded then.

-Curvy walls with tall windows, Googie-style, a neon “Take-Out” sign just inside, pictures of classic cars everywhere, a large “Bob” statue inside, almost as Continue reading


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(1971) Granada Restaurant, Burbank

Granadasign02My friend Kate and I wanted Mexican food, so we headed over to Granada in Burbank. I’ve driven past it thousands of times at least and never noticed it; the outside is sweet but unassuming. The interior, however, was fabulous.

-Incredibly busy and bright, full of paintings and flowers and, above the cash register, a huge parrot hanging from the ceiling. Easter decorations (this was two days before Easter) were everywhere; bunnies and eggs and all sorts of things, but even aside from the seasonal stuff, it was a blast of color. There was what appeared to be a large wood recreation of the Mayan calendar, and ornate gold mirrors, and murals and plates and giant butterflies and fancy hanging lamps. Best of all was a fake house exterior hiding the kitchen; with fake brick under fake stucco and fake curtains inside the fake windows. I don’t know if I could have loved the place more. It would have been wonderful even without Continue reading


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(1959) Tallyrand, Burbank

tallyrandsignWent to the Tallyrand for lunch with my friend Cassie. I thought I’d eaten at the Tallyrand once and hadn’t been that crazy about it, but since it was on the list I was ready to give it another go. As soon as I stepped inside, I knew I’d never been there before. That was some other place I didn’t like much. I have no idea what that other place was.

-There are several rooms; the main room that we Continue reading